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More than 1,800 accredited colleges and universities have made the SAT and ACT standardized tests optional or gone completely test-free in their admission policies for the fall of 2024, according to a group that advocates for optional college entrance testing. 

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing’s FairTest website list has more than 1,800 colleges and universities that have gone test-optional and more than 80 that are completely test-free or “test-blind,” meaning that SAT and ACT scores will not be considered at all. More than two dozen of these higher education institutions are in New Jersey. 

Columbia University was the first Ivy League college to go test-optional indefinitely, announcing in March that it was extending its optional SAT/ACT policy that many U.S. colleges had adopted only temporarily during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

William and Mary University has also extended its policy of optional standardized testing after a three-year pilot study at the university showed no significant difference in academic achievement and retention between students who took entrance exams and those who did not. 

However, other higher education institutions have abandoned the optional testing policies used during the pandemic and are requiring incoming freshman to take SATs or ACTs again. Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among those who recently switched back to testing. 

Although the testing companies maintain the exams are nondiscriminatory, opponents say they are unfair to students, particularly low-income students of color, who cannot afford the expensive preparatory courses that help more affluent teenagers improve their scores.  

Inequities in the college application process has become a hot topic of debate lately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in June that the race-conscious admission practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which were intended to increase campus diversity, were unconstitutional.